NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Frank Page, in his second address to Executive Committee members as president of the Southern Baptist Convention, spoke of an “irrecoverable moment” in which believers must repent of their self-sufficiency and unite in the task of taking the land for Christ just as the Israelites took the Promised Land despite the challenges.
“I believe that we are at what I would call a crossroads opportunity, a time that some might call even an irrecoverable moment,” Page said Feb. 19 in Nashville, Tenn.
Page referred to a story told by Billy Graham in which John F. Kennedy, before he was president, asked the evangelist if he believed in the second coming of Jesus. When Graham said he did, Kennedy asked him to tell him about it.
“And Billy Graham said he told him about why Jesus came the first time and what the Bible said about His coming the second time,” Page said. “He listened with such attention, and as they pulled up to the house he said, ‘Does my church teach that?’ He said, ‘Well, they believe it in their creeds and in their confessions but they don’t talk about it anymore.’”
Some time later, Graham attended a prayer breakfast with President Kennedy, and afterward as they were waiting for their cars, Kennedy asked Graham if the two could have a talk. But Graham had the flu and needed to decline the president’s request and talk another time.
“And with a hesitancy in his face, the president said, ‘Yeah, yeah, that’d be OK, Billy.’ Billy Graham said he went sick back to his hotel room and the president left in his car,” Page recounted. “And just a few weeks later he read and heard of the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Billy Graham says it was what he believes was an irrecoverable moment. How he wishes that he had talked to him that day because he will always remember that look in his face, that he wanted to talk about spiritual things.”
Page said he believes Southern Baptists are in such a moment, a crossroads where God is calling them to reexamine who they are, where they are and what is the task ahead of them. He pointed to Numbers 13, where the Israelites had come near the end of their wandering in the desert and sent spies to scout out the Promised Land.
“Indeed I believe God is calling us today to scout out the land,” Page said. “Did not Jesus say in John 4:35 to lift up our eyes unto the fields for they are ripe unto harvest? I believe He has called us to look into our land and to take an objective view. What is it like? Is it worth taking for the Gospel of Christ? I believe the answer is yes, it is.”
But just as the spies identified the difficulty of the task based on giants in the land, Page said the task of taking the world for Christ today may seem impossible.
“We’re living in a land worth taking, but I’m going to tell you it is not going to be taken easily,” Page said. “… I know and you know there are giants out there now that are formidable indeed, and we know the land that we are called to take is not an easy one anymore and it’s becoming progressively more and more difficult.”
Page expressed disappointment that so many of today’s youngest adults already have opted out from the work of the Lord. Extra efforts are required to reach those who have no interest in the Gospel message, he said.
“The task ahead of us is formidable. It is one that calls us to look for new ways to share the timeless, precious message of our Lord Jesus Christ with people that may need to hear it in maybe different methods than we’ve used in the past,” Page said. “Some people get mad at me when I say that, but I’m going to keep on saying that. As long as the message and the methodology are biblically based, we must seek ways to reach this area for Christ because it is a land worth taking.”
In order to take the land, Southern Baptists need “passion, not just programs,” and “commitment, not just comments,” the SBC president said. He mentioned Caleb, who the Bible says followed the Lord wholeheartedly and was one of the scouts who believed the task could be accomplished.
“There not only must be that kind of individual commitment and passion, but there is something else of extreme importance, for we see it in chapter 14, verses 8 and 9,” Page said. “There Caleb said something significant: ‘If the Lord is pleased with us, He will bring us into this land, a land flowing with milk and honey.’”
If God is going to be pleased with Southern Baptists, Page said, they must take the words of 2 Chronicles 7:14 not as advisory comments but as requirements for revival. Believers, in humility before the Lord, must repent of their arrogance and self-sufficiency because the land will not be taken until the spirit of repentance comes upon them, Page said.
“Did not Jesus pray in the Lord’s prayer of John 17 that ‘they would be one even as you and I are one so that the world will know that you have sent me,’” Page said. “Have we not thwarted the prayer request of Jesus for long enough? I ask you to join me — whether you agree with me or like me — I ask you to join with me in taking the land for Jesus Christ. It’s the only hope we have, and it’s the only way the Lord will be pleased with us and take us into that land flowing with milk and honey. …
“I believe we’re at an irrecoverable moment, a crossroads opportunity. But we will cross the border into that Promised Land only when we please Him,” Page said. “And I beg of you to join me in the task to win this world to Christ in a mission opportunity unparalleled before us but one in which we must do it together. I beg of you to join with me in taking a land that is well worth taking.”